Bonita and the Blues Shacks – Sweet Thing | Album Review

Bonita and the Blues Shacks – Sweet Thing

Rhythm Bomb Records

CD: 16 Songs, 49:00 Minutes  

Styles: Ensemble Blues, Horn Blues, Torch Singer Blues

Ever since I was little, I’ve had a soft spot for torch singers. Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald, all the way down to Adele. Give me a bona-fide chanteuse over a bubblegum pop star any day. Even on a blues CD, a leading lady adds so much passion and power. Germany’s BB and the Blues Shacks have added Bonita Niessen, a dynamo from South Africa, to their ensemble, fleshing out their sound quite nicely. It’s like a Mai Tai on a Hawaiian cruise: sweet and luscious, but don’t forget the rum. On sixteen songs – six originals and ten classic covers – they bring back the ‘50s and ‘60s with their delightful retro groove. With that said, keep in mind this isn’t hard blues. No screaming shredder here. No gritty stomps. No raunchy lyrics, but plenty of sly innuendo. Sweet Thing is the perfect album for a pool party or gals’ night out.

The Shacks have had a long and storied history in the blues biz – even in this magazine. Several of their releases have been reviewed here, and our jury has ruled in their favor. No wonder. They’ve got talent, drive, energy, and a vibe that’s positive without being preachy, comforting without being cloying. As their promotional materials state, they’ve gone on a lot of tours and have been the only international group that was selected to play three times at the prestigious Doheny Blues Festival. They may not be big in the U.S. yet, but that may change soon.

Joining “bonita” Bonita on lead female vocals are Michael Arlt on harmonica and male vocals, Andreas Arlt on guitar, Fabian Fritz on piano and organ, Henning Hauerken on upright and electric bass, Andre Werkmeister on drums and percussion, Tom Müller on saxophone, and Stefan Gössinger on trumpet.

The following three original songs are sure to make even the un-hippest hipsters get hopping.

Track 02: “Momma’s Goin’ Dancin’” – The band goes all out on their second number, which in this reviewer’s opinion, should have been the opener. Our narrator is sick of household drudgery and in the mood to hit a different kind of floor: “Well, I’m done doing dishes, babe, and I’ve washed your dirty clothes. Ain’t nothing left for me to do. I’m tired. Ain’t nothing left for me to do. See, now, Momma’s goin’ dancin’ – Daddy, get my dancing shoes.” The musicians take turns “walking the dog,” and Bonita’s sassy singing will make house-spouses of all kinds relate.

Track 08: “Hottest Wings in Town” – Of the sixteen selections on this CD, number eight is one that sounds most like traditional blues. Most everyone loves chicken wings – and other tender morsels. “I’ve got the hottest wings in town,” Bonita boasts in this spicy Chicago-style number. “If you ever get a taste, now, they sure won’t let you down…” Andreas Arlt’s guitar is superb, as is the understated horn section.

Track 12: “Where’s the Money Honey” – Time for some jump/swing blues with bouncy number twelve. Sometimes potential partners “spend nothing but the night” when you want a little more. The best part of this one is when Bonita says, “No mon, no fun.” Revel in Michael Arlt’s harp. He puts his money where his mouth is, and Andre Werkmeister’s drums kick serious tail.

Bonita and the Blues Shacks’ latest delicacy is a Sweet Thing for darn sure!

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